8 December 2012

Tanzania: Reporters Denied Access to Court Proceedings

Zanzibar — REPORTERS in Zanzibar found it difficult to cope with the recent police action, barring them from covering open court proceedings on the case involving eight Muslim clerics.

These are being charged with conspiracy to cause unrest in the Islands last October. Last Tuesday remained unforgettable day for the media in the Isles as local reporters and a counterpart from the UK- Financial Times were blocked from entering the court room for a close follow-up to the case.

Reporters from Zanzibar Leo, Tanzania Daima, Nipashe, Radio and TV have been at one time denied permission to enter a heavily guarded court building during the proceedings over the Muslim leaders led by Sheikh Farid Hadi Ahmed who are in jail since October 19, this year.

Zanzibar Electronic Public Media: ZBC-Radio, and ZBC-TV, has not been covering the case for at least one month now. According to FM radio Al-Noor director, Mr Mohamed Suleiman, the station has been banned indefinitely from broadcasting anything about Uamsho, "The Zanzibar Broadcasting Commission has issued the ban," he explained.

Asked to comment on the matter, the Minister of state (Second Vice President Office) Mr Mohammed Aboud Mohammed denied any involvement by the government saying that the government has no intention to obstruct the media from doing its job.

"We are encouraging transparency and we need people to know what is going on in Zanzibar. But we encourage news of national interest," Mohammed said after reporters asked why policemen stop reporters from crossing the police-line to the court. The eight Muslim leaders from Uamsho Islamic group face charges in two separate courts: Mwanakwerekwe District Court, and Vuga Regional Court.

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